‘Crime’ pays in CBS win

Drama paces first Eye ratings victory of fall

With “CSI” on the case, CBS has solved NBC’s early-season dominance — stepping into the winner’s circle for the first time this fall.

The Eye net, according to Nielsen, edged out the Peacock in overall audience for the week of Oct. 22-28 (12.84 million to 12.74m) and placed second to NBC in adults 25-54.

Leading the way for CBS was second-year crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which surged to series highs on Thursday, including total viewers (24.67 million, No. 3 for the week) and adults 18-49 (9.0/21, No. 4 for the week).

CBS’ winning week also included more top 10 finishes from “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Survivor: Africa,” season highs for each of its Tuesday dramas and the best results in five weeks for “The Amazing Race.”

NBC still prevailed in the key advertiser demo of adults 18-49 for the fifth time in as many weeks this season, topping second-place Fox by 22%.

Peacock claimed the week’s top two programs in “ER” (27.38m, 13.6/33 in 18-49) and “Friends” (25.64m, 12.5/33), which bookended a Thursday victory. Net also won on Wednesday and Friday.

Fox got off to a solid start with the World Series, as the opening two games were up by 6% year-to-year in overall audience. Sunday’s game was the No. 4 show of the week in total viewers (23.55 million)

Net won the week in all male demos and was second in adults 18-49 despite airing all repeats Monday through Wednesday.

ABC ran fourth across the board, as “Monday Night Football” fell to a season low opposite baseball playoffs and its top entertainment series, “The Practice,” was in repeat. Highlights included strong numbers for its Wednesday comedies and a standout perf from Thursday’s “Primetime Live,” which ranked as the week’s top-rated newsmag among adults 18-49.

UPN joined NBC as the only nets to improve season to date vs. a year ago in key demos, with Wednesday’s “Enterprise” continuing to impress. Tuesday’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is also providing big year-to-year gains.

The WB received strong perfs from its Tuesday dramas “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville” and from Friday laffer “Reba.” Net was down vs. a year ago, though, held down by Thursday’s “PopStars” and the since-canceled “Elimidate Deluxe”

Overall, viewers continue to tune in for returning favorites (“JAG,” “Friends,” the “Law & Order” franchise) while shunning the two series tied most closely to the events of Sept. 11: Both CIA drama “The Agency” on CBS and New York firefighter drama “Third Watch” on NBC are struggling.

The week’s most-watched cable programs were HBO’s “Band of Brothers” (6.08m) and TNN’s “WWF Raw Zone” (4.84m), ranking 80th and 91st among all primetime shows.

Sunday

Game 2 of the World Series (23.55m, 8.4/20 in 18-49) grabbed better numbers than all five of last year’s games, leading Fox to its strongest Sunday since January 2000.

Boosted by a football lead-in, CBS’ “60 Minutes” ticked to its best 18-49 rating (4.3/11) since January, while lead-out “The Education of Max Bickford” (11.43m, 2.8/7 in 18-49) was up slightly week to week.

ABC’s “Alias” continues to look strong, although its drama competish, NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” was on its tail in adults 18-49 (4.6/10 vs. 4.8/11).

Saturday

Fox rolled on the night with the opening game of the World Series, while ABC was second among viewers under 50 behind “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and a repeat of “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

CBS received another weak perf from “Citizen Baines” (6.94m, 1.7/5 in 18-49), which fell 41% behind what “Walker, Texas Ranger” did in the hour a year ago in 18-49. It’s also hurting “The District” at 10, which was down 17% vs. last season.

Friday

The “Radio Music Awards” boosted ABC to second place in 18-49, although net’s overall audience (5.58 million viewers) was its smallest on a Friday since September 2000.

CBS’ “The Ellen Show” (5.74m, 1.8/6) disappointed in its new 8:30 timeslot, retaining just 75% of its 18-49 lead-in from a repeat “King of Queens.” The WB’s “Reba,” on the other hand, delivered the same demo score but doubled its lead-in (“Maybe It’s Me”) in doing so.

Thursday

Most shows were up week to week, including NBC’s “Friends” and CBS’ “Survivor” (20.43m, 8.0/20). NBC increased its advantage in the opening hour to 29% in adults 18-49 as 8:30 laffer “Inside Schwartz” (16.56m, 8.2/20) picked it up a notch.

CBS’ “The Agency” again retained less than 40% of its “CSI” 18-49 lead-in (3.5 vs. 9.0), with the CIA drama fading an additional 18% in its second half-hour.

Diane Sawyer’s interview with Carmen bin Laden gave ABC’s “Primetime” its largest in-season aud (15.18m) since November.

Wednesday

NBC dominated (18 million viewers, 6.6/17 in 18-49), improving upon its year-ago winning averages by more than 20%. Net’s “West Wing” was the night’s most-watched show (21.47m) while its “Law & Order” was No. 1 in 18-49 (8.1/22).

ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” (13.24m, 5.3/15 in 18-49) and “According to Jim” (12.84m, 5.8/15) hit season highs. And in its new 9:30 timeslot, “Bob Patterson” grabbed its best adults 18-34 rating to date (3.8/10), although that rating reps a 31% dropoff from its first-place “Drew Carey” lead-in (5.5/15).

CBS’ “Amazing Race” (9.17m, 4.0/10 in 18-49) earned some of its best marks since Sept. 19. Compared with the net’s movie perf in the hour during the first five weeks last season, “Race” is up by 24% in adults 18-49.

Tuesday

CBS rolled behind its dramas, with seventh-year “JAG” and third-year “Judging Amy” attracting their second-largest audiences ever and rookie “The Guardian” hitting a new high as well.

“Smallville” (7.34m, 3.4/9 in 18-49) again came up big for the WB, retaining in excess of 90% of its premiere aud in many key demos. Skedmate “Gilmore Girls” hit some series highs for a one-hour episode, including total viewers (6.39m).

Monday

CBS won easily on Oct. 15 behind its comedy block, while ABC’s “Monday Night Football” drew a season-low 14.64 million viewers but still topped baseball on Fox (10.76m).

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